The Shawinigan Fox

A few little-known facts about Jean Chretien

Pierre Trudeau detested the Notwithstanding Clause of the constitution. What about Jean Chretien?

Pierre Trudeau detested it, Brian Mulroney ridiculed it, Paul Martin wanted it abolished, but Chretien thought the people should never completely subordinate themselves to appointed judges.  I fact, Chretien as the one who negotiated the clause with his provincial counterparts.

Which prime minister said this? "We have to break that mentality in which people work long enough to qualify for social assistance then quit. It's better to have them at 50 per cent productivity than to be sitting at home drinking beer." 

Jean Chretien got in trouble with columnists, editorial writers, and the opposition. But he said most of the mail he received were from wives who wrote that they agreed with him!

From the Flap
Jean Chrétien’s critics have said he was a man with no vision and a short attention span — a small-town hick who stumbled his way to become Canada’s 20th prime minister. Whatever credit the Chrétien government deserved was often given to Paul Martin, the heir apparent who was touted to be the brains behind the operation.

But while Chretien was the subject of ridicule, he was quietly giving his competitors — both inside and outside of the Liberal party — a master class in politics, leadership, and nation-building. 

His decisions, which often ran counter to elite opinion, fundamentally reshaped and strengthened Canada as it entered the 21st century. Chrétien restored sanity to government finances, kept Canada out of the Iraq war, turned a brain drain into a brain gain, and established clarity over national unity.

Relying on new evidence, detailed analysis and exclusive interviews with former cabinet ministers, provincial premiers, political staff, strategists, and high-ranking bureaucrats – many of them speaking publicly for the first time – bestselling author and historian Bob Plamondon tells the surprising inside story of the Chretien years, including: what Chretien would have done if the 1995 referendum had ended in a vote for separation; why Paul Martin secretly threatened to resign in 1995, seven years before he actually quit; who tried to convince Chretien to join the Iraq war and why he could not be intimidated into joining the US led coalition; why a lifelong Liberal was the most conservative prime minister in Canadian history; the shocking details of the Chretien-Martin feud and the only time an elected Canadian prime minister has been overthrown

Until now, the story of Chretien’s time as prime minister has been largely misunderstood. Plamondon sets the record straight and provides compelling lessons about political leadership and problem-solving from a critical chapter in Canadian history.